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American Jury Finds Nikola Founder Guilty of Fraud

Prosecutors painted Milton, 40, as a "con man" who intended to mislead investors

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UNITED STATES: A U.S. jury found Nikola Corp founder Trevor Milton guilty of fraud on Friday following accusations that he misled investors about the technology behind the electric vehicle startup.

After approximately five hours of deliberation, the jury found Milton guilty of one count of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud. Milton was cleared of a separate charge of securities fraud.

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Prosecutors painted Milton, 40, as a “con man” who intended to mislead investors about the technology of the maker of electric and hydrogen-powered trucks beginning in November 2019 during the trial in federal court in Manhattan.

As the jury announced their decision, Milton, dressed in a blue suit and a green tie, shook his head. According to his counsel, he will submit court documents to contest the judgment.

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In July 2021, Milton of Oakley, Utah, was charged with a crime. After a study by short-seller Hindenburg Research referred to Nikola as a “fraud,” he departed the firm in September 2020.

The prosecution accused Milton of making false and deceptive statements about Nikola’s vehicles and technology through social media, interviews for television, podcasts, and print media.

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They claimed Milton made false claims about Nikola, including that he created a “Nikola One” semi-truck that he knew would not function, manufactured batteries internally that he knew were being bought elsewhere and built an electric and hydrogen-powered “Badger” pickup vehicle from the “ground up.”

Milton made the comments about Nikola at the same time that it joined the growing list of IT and EV businesses that have used particular purpose acquisition vehicles, or SPACs, to go public.

Additionally, Nikola’s stock options were accepted as part of the purchase price by the sale of a Utah ranch based on Milton’s representations about the firm. He was accused of scamming this seller as well.

The business agreed to a $125 million settlement last year with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for its investor representations.

Also Read: Key Trump Executive Weisselberg to Plead Guilty in Tax Fraud Case

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